Saturday, December 1, 2012

Global readers programme

It is well documented that teens reading drops off the older they get due to a number of factors such as higher work load, increased socialising and time restraints. Having had much success with the Primary students with 'read around the world' last year and this year, I though we should extend it to secondary students with a few differences, to promote reading in this age bracket. So, over the past month at school we have been trying out a reading incentive called "The Global Reader Challenge" specifically targeted at the secondary students.

Essentially it is asking the students to log how many pages they read in 4 weeks. The collective pages are added up & combined as house groups to add a bit of competition between houses. This is a similar system to that which occurs for sports days, but with reading. The objective is to see which house can read around the world the most times. One page equals one mile. 24,000 miles equals once around the world at the equator.

 I wanted an image that reflected the global reader persona that was a mature look, I found the image on Dreamstime and bought it for about $10USD. We used it on all our flyers, posters, stickers and bookmarks.

I set up an online survey for each house, with a quick link from our school intranet to take them straight there. We put up posters and gave out stickers and bookmarks to remind students about logging their reading using the online tool, and to also remind them they could count any pages read -  graphic novels, pages they read for research, the newspaper, magazines - anything! We promoted it on our Facebook page and every day in the daily bulletin. We did offer 50 bonus pages for specific fiction books (indicated by a smiley sticker on their cover) which had the country or culture as an integral part of the story in the hope it would generate interest in these global books, which will in turn lead to more knowledge & understanding about different cultures and nations which in turn would promote international mindedness. These books were set up on our front facing slat wall to make them easy to find.

Below is the survey I devised after being unable to find an appropriate online tally application that did not need downloading and can be customised. (Does anyone know of one?) I had to create a new survey for each house, and each student logged into their own house's survey to log their reading.

At the end of each week I add up the results of the logging and post the reading miles on the school bulletin and have a bar graph made of the results.

The first week was very slow with only around 9 entries for each house, the second week was better with about 30 entries, third week about 60 -70 entries per house. This may be the same students who are reading logging their reading, however, it also indicates they are now logging their entries in earnest to 'beat' the other houses.

Results from the end of week 2

The logging does rely on the students being honest about their reading as there are many ways to create false statistics, however, I also discussed demonstrating the learner profile of being principled.

Reflections :

At our school we have a few issues personally accessing students as a group to encourage them to not only read, but to log their reading. I need to be working with the home room teachers and the English teachers to get more people on board for this to be embraced more widely by the students. I did not get the chance to do this before the launch as I was away from school for family reasons. I did however get to promote the challenge at a house meeting when it started, but was not able to rev up the house captains to get behind it to push it amongst their peers.

The online tool is not designed well enough - I thought the students would log on once a week, but they are logging on more than this and counting every book read - which is many. That is excellent, but the survey needed to be more specific as 'over 400 pages' is not enough to reflect the amount some students have been reading in a week or even some of the longer books they are reading like Brisinger. I underestimated how much they were reading. I have since told them they are to log every book they finish - do not wait for the end of the week. Over 400 pages I put a cap at 500 pages - which is a little unfair for the students who do read much more than this. An online tally application would be so much better and also easier to read the results. Currently it is taking me about 45 minutes a week to sort and count the results.

The students need to see promotion in their face all the time. The promotion constantly reminds them of what they need to be doing. Next time I have little advertisments in the bathrooms behind the doors, and other places in the school. The time period needs to be relatively long so they get the idea and start taking action, however it can't be too long or they lose interest ... a fine line between interest & boredom.

Our Secondary Student Library team needs to take on more of a role for promotion in these types of events. So this also needs to be managed.

Almost 2 weeks to go until the finish of the Global Reading Challenge, I will be trying to get them more motivated to read more as we get closer to the finish. I will also be pushing the global books to enhance their reading and so we can help to support our schools focus this year of developing international mindedness.

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